Between being restricted to playing only my 3DS while my other gaming systems are packed away and Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire being released, I have had that frustrating feeling I sometimes get about wanting to get back to studying Japanese. There are so many things that serve as a reminder that it’s still something I am apt on learning, despite my extremely long break.
What Stopped Me
I haven’t sat down and properly studied Japanese since Summer 2012, if I remember correctly. I had just completed Lesson 15 of Genki II and began Lesson 16. I had just written up some notes for Lesson 16 when I shoved it aside for art commissions instead. I had A LOT of them that needed to get done and there was no way I was going to complete them without sacrificing my Japanese study time.
I did briefly study Japanese the last week of November 2012 for the JLPT, but other than that, I haven’t studied it since.
What Keeps Stopping Me
I am entirely the reason I keep stopping myself.
I keep adding Japanese to my goals each year, but it always seems to be shoved aside by something else. Last year, it was art commissions and my artwork. This year, it was Kelly’s Journey and my website. All these goal choices were a mixture of priority (art commissions), how long I’ve been waiting to do something (Kelly’s Journey/website), or what I felt like doing at the time (artwork).
I always end up feeling bad for kicking Japanese aside, but I do it anyway. I kind of wonder if it’s because I consider studying it to be strictly a hobby of mine, as oppose to my other priorities, which I’m hoping will take me beyond the realm of hobbies. Regardless of how I feel about it, I still get this nagging feeling in the back of my head, begging me to get back to it. It’s desperate and it doesn’t go away.
I think the other reason I keep delaying Japanese is because I know how much time and effort I would need to dedicate to it…which is a lot. It requires about twice as much time as a piece of artwork from me, probably about three times the effort as making a website, and is FAR more rewarding than any art commission is.
Then there’s my “I can’t handle more than two goals a year” that I’ve begun to realize. I’ve also begun to consider that, hey, if I might not work on my two main goals for weeks or months, why not work on something else? I am hesitant to include Japanese in that though because of the second reason I listed, but it’s pretty much just out of fear of not having enough time (despite I have all the time I need).
I suppose my entire reason for delaying Japanese is not having enough time to fit it in alongside everything else, since it means I have to sacrifice something…
Perhaps there’s a way to squash that fear and do it anyway?
Since I had the realization that if I don’t work on my other goals for weeks or months, I could add in another goal. There’s nothing — absolutely nothing that says I have to do those goals every week or month. I mean, that would be SUPER nice, but I need a break every once-in-a-while, you know? I get burnt out. If I have some of that “I want to do something” bug, but have no desire to work on my two main goals…why not switch focus to a different goal?
A different goal like…Japanese?
Fear is largely what’s stopping me. Well, that and I don’t feel like I have a plan.
I suppose I could make that right now, huh?
It would be the easiest just to simply start from Lesson 16. The only issue with that is that most of what I learned has fallen into the depths of my mind and need to be pulled out. I’m fairly confident I could be back up to speed within a month (maybe a few weeks) if I sat down and bothered to review everything I’ve learned so far. How to go about it though is perhaps my biggest question?
Do I take handwritten notes for the billionth time? Do I take notes on my computer instead, as I have written it many times? Do I redo examples? Do I study my SRS deck again and again?
I feel like either the handwritten notes or the computer notes are DEFINITELY the best bet. I may just do computer notes for the actual lessons (review tiiiiiime) and redo examples by physically doing them (handwriting/speaking). That makes sense…right? And as I said, I’m fairly confident all that I’ve learned will come back to me. I just need to review it.
Part of the reason I’m fairly confident is because there’s stuff I’m like “what does this mean?!”. Then I look up the word and smack myself because I KNEW the word…I just temporarily forgot it until the moment I saw it again. Oops.
Anyway, that is what I’ll do — I’m going to type up ALL notes up to lesson 16 (maybe throw in some JLPT N5 stuff too, since I also studied that for the test & includes a few things the textbook doesn’t have). I’m going to redo examples from the textbook OR do examples for the JLPT study materials. Both should be fine…right? Yeah.
I think that would be fairly easy to do on my “breaks” from my main goals of the year. I could probably also easily divide the stopping points by each lesson (for instance, I’ll take a break from typing up the lessons every three lessons (not final)).
In between that though, DEFINITELY SRSing the HECK out of the vocabulary. I’m probably going to have to devise a plan to also practice…well, everything else.
I actually had this really awesome idea of making flashcards with Japanese vocabulary on them. I would then have to choose like…three of them and make sentences out of them, using the words at least ONCE out of any of the sentences (so it doesn’t have to be all in the same sentence): two oral, three written. For instance, if I chose the cards 安い (yasui; cheap), オレンジ (orenji; orange), and 食べる (taberu; to eat), my sentences might be:
1.) 安いオレンジを買いました。(yasui orenji wo kaimashita; [I] bought a cheap orange.)
2.) 食べたオレンジが安かったです。(tabeta orenji ga yasukatta desu; The orange [I] ate was cheap.)
3.) あまりオレンジを食べない。(amari orenji wo tabenai; [I] don’t eat oranges much.)
4.) 昨日、安いテレビを買いました。(kinou, yasui terebi wo kaimashita; Yesterday, [I] bought a cheap TV.)
5.) え！？ そのオレンジをしゃべれる！？ (E!? Sono orenji wo shabereru!?; Huh?! That orange can talk?!)
Doesn’t that seem fun?! I even wanted to take it a step further and actually do grammar flashcards too and require myself to use the grammar point (or grammar points) in my sentences!
However, the entire flashcard project is extremely ambitious and I’m expecting it to take months and A LOT of ink to do it, so I can’t use that right now. (Although, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work on it! I should! I should work on those flashcards, right?! Even if I can’t use them for that purpose right now. Those flashcards are semi-quick too to make the graphics for and I can just print them out at a later time…right?)
For now though, I suppose I could just use the SRS deck to pull out random vocabulary until I get the Flashcard project squared away…
So, when I use Japanese for filler between my current project goals:
1.) I’ll type up ALL notes from the lessons, most likely organized BY the order presented in the textbook
2.) Review grammar points by redoing textbook practices, along with JLPT N5 practices
3.) Review vocabulary via SRS
4.) Work on creating the flashcard graphics (even if I am not using the flashcards themselves right now)
I think that sounds good…
All of this would be a great prep to actually get back into Japanese.
I currently have Japanese up for a main goal next year. I REALLY want to get back to studying it and I feel like it should be a main goal. I’ve put it off long enough, after all. I think it will be alongside Kelly’s Journey as a goal. The month will be divided as two weeks for Japanese, two weeks for Kelly’s Journey. I think I’ll divulge more on that when it hits closer to December, like I enjoy doing every year now.
I’m pretty excited about this. Now, just to get it started.
Have I Studied Any Japanese At All?
If it’s not obvious from earlier, no, not really. That’s not to say I haven’t learned anything though.
One of the most recent words I’ve learned was 火山 (かざん; kazan) which means “volcano” and uses the kanji for “fire” and “mountain” (uh-duuuuh, a “fire mountain” equals a volcano). I learned it while playing Pocket Monsters White 2 via context clues. I can’t really remember the scene — all I know is that the character, Bel, was talking, and I knew almost all the words. One of the words I didn’t know was “かざん”. I could tell from the rest of the sentence though that it meant “volcano” (well, that and that Bel and I were inside a volcano). I double checked it later in the dictionary and YEP, context clues helped again!
(Kind of reminds me when I learned the Japanese word for lake, which would be みずうみ (mizuumi), in Pocket Monsters Platinum; I thought it combined the words of “water” and “sea/beach”, but it does not. However, between having those water-related words and the fact that みずうみ ALWAYS showed up when I had to go to the lakes in the game…it just made sense.)
I also learned two new grammar points by reading the Nihongo Notes series (which I definitely would recommend)! I learned 〜にくい (~nikui; hard [to do something]) and 〜やすい (~yasui; easy [to do something]).
Which suddenly opened up a world of understanding to me.
With ~nikui & ~yasui, you drop/transform the verb ending and slap it on.
食べる (たべる; taberu; to eat) would become: 食べにくい (tabenikui; hard to eat) or 食べやすい (tabeyasui; easy to eat)
読む (よむ; yomu; to read) would become: 読みにくい (よみにくい; yominikui; hard to read) or 読みやすい (よみやすい; yomiyasui; easy to read)
Sorry if that just went over anybody’s heads, haha.
I’m excited about this. I don’t think you know how much.
However, other than those, I haven’t learned anything new and I certainly forget much more.
My Future With Japanese
I still plan on studying Japanese. I want to. I can feel it within me that I wholeheartedly want to study it and learn the language! I can keep pushing it off, but it’s always going to be around every corner, haunting me.
Every time I open my 3DS, I get reminded that, hey, ALL my games are in Japanese. My Japanese skills aren’t as far as I would like them to be (i.e. understanding, like, almost everything) and they don’t feel even close and I get reminded of that whenever I play a game on it.
Granted, I did purposely buy a Japanese 3DS FOR that purpose. I need something to keep testing me and keep reminding me of my Japanese learning endeavors, because without it…I might be able to ignore that calling easier. It’s kind of hard to do when you have Japanese text from a video game punching you in the face, teasing you that you can’t read it yet.